Nearly 15 years ago, M-PESA launched as one of the world’s first mobile money payment systems – catalysing business growth and banking those otherwise excluded from formal financial institutions. Today more than 700 fintech companies operate across the African continent. Collectively, these fintech companies have created digital payment infrastructures that help businesses and individuals overcome barriers to lending and offer a myriad of services generating both commercial and social outcomes.
As the number of companies and size of fintech investment increases across the continent, our research team at the Wheeler Institute sought to bring clarity to this fast-moving sector. Despite extensive academic research exploring product take-off and technology diffusion, there is very little formal quantitative research on the definition and incidence of scale in contexts such as these.
In the past 18 months our research team have collaborated with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office (FCDO) on a research programme that has developed insights on the incidence and drivers of scale based on the largest database of firms so far: 720 firms in the fintech sector in Africa. We applied a quantitative approach to answering a number of questions on the minds of operators, investors and policymakers. Did the rise of companies and investment translate to scale? How many companies have achieved scale relative to the African digital financial services context? Is there in fact a science to scaling fintech solutions across the continent and what might be some of the main drivers of success?
To feature the research findings and insights of the programme, we are launching the DigitalxScale website and report. The DigitalxScale team will be also releasing a series of content from expert interviews and further industry insights which will be published over the coming months. Visit the DigitalxScale website, download the report and join our mailing list to keep up-to-date.
DigitalxScale is a collaboration project with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Wheeler Institute advancing our understanding of the factors which contribute toward or inhibit the scaling of digital fintech companies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Nick Hughes, Executive Fellow at the Wheeler Institute, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at M-KOPA and founder of M-PESA. Dr Hughes has been at the forefront of mobile commerce activities in emerging markets for over 15 years, pioneering digital fintech solutions that solve real problems.
Rajesh Chandy, Professor of Marketing, London Business School; Tony and Maureen Wheeler Chair in Entrepreneurship and Academic Director, Wheeler Institute for Business and Development.
Wheeler Institute DigitalxScale project team:
Robert Smith MBA2021, Jovin Pizarro MBA2021, Federica Andrisani MBA2021, Zaineb Amin MBA2021, Stephanie Bandyk MBA2022, Catherine Phelps MBA2020, Vilma Nunez MBA2020 and Hamant Maini MIFFT2021.